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Deal protects Schneider kit against cyber-attacks

14 November, 2012

Schneider Electric has chosen the signalling specialist Belden to supply it with security technology to protect its industrial automation systems against cyber-attacks and other network incidents. Belden will provide a suite of products, called the ConneXium Tofino Security Solution, developed by experts from Byres Security, which Belden acquired in 2011.

“Processors and manufacturers are continuously threatened by new and increasingly dangerous cyber-attacks, which require greater vigilance and security,” says Dave Doggett, director Schneider’s cyber-security programme. The new system “provides a key element in mitigating risks by managing the traffic to and from Schneider Electric automation devices before patches are applied or new more secure products deployed.”

The core of the system is a firewall (above) that inspects every network message passing through it, allowing only the right messages from the right computers to reach critical controllers. This is designed to stop hacking attempts, deliberately corrupted messages and network traffic storms. A module called the Modbus TCP Enforcer ensures that only “allowed” Modbus commands from “allowed” devices pass through the firewall.

The system includes 15 pre-configured templates for major Schneider automation products. Engineers choose the template for the product they are using, and decide which devices they want to allow communications with. The software also includes a technology that looks for common mistakes in firewall programming and suggests possible improvements.

Once in service, “security profiles” will defend equipment against new vulnerabilities and malware. Schneider recently used this capability to mitigate against newly revealed vulnerabilities in its Modicon PLCs, without customers needing to wait for a firmware update or interrupt production.

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